Brand Strategy Channel 4 Marketing

Channel 4’s ‘creepy’ Naked Attraction bus ad provokes 25 ASA complaints


By Jennifer Faull, Deputy Editor

August 31, 2021 | 3 min read

Channel 4 is facing criticism for an advert that suggests people who sit in certain spots on a bus ‘love being naked’.

Naked Attraction

Image credit: Tracy King, Twitter

The advert promotes Channel 4’s controversial late-night TV program Naked Attraction, which sees contestants select a date having only seen their naked body from the neck down.

Running on the side of double-decker buses, the creative to promote the show points up to passengers potentially sitting in window-side seats, suggesting they ‘love Naked Attraction’, ‘hate Naked Attraction' or ‘love being naked’.

Twitter user Tracy King, a freelance producer and writer who has previously served in marketing roles at companies including Trinity Mirror, slammed the “creepy” campaign in light of the shocking number of sexual assaults that take place on public transport.

According to data from YouGov published last year, over a third of women and 12% of men have experienced sexual harassment on London transport services.

“In general you have to be very careful with adverts that include the public without their consent, and that goes double for public transport. Passengers shouldn’t have to navigate ‘am I the butt of a joke on my way to work today’,“ she wrote. “Passengers can’t consent to this stuff.“

Another user highlighted how offensive the campaign is given that children often prefer to sit in the seat to which the ‘loves being naked’ arrow is pointing.

“I’d also like to know what sort of person thinks bus users are disposable fodder for advertising purposes, anonymous silhouettes with no agency or value beyond ‘lol we stuck a sign on their back implying they’re horny’,” added King.

The UK‘s advertising regulator, the ASA, confirmed to The Drum that it received 25 complaints about the ad over the weekend. The complainants, it says, believe the ad is “offensive, harmful, inappropriate and irresponsible for making light of sexual assault, which sometimes takes place on buses, and that it also encourages it”. Some also object that passengers are being “targeted/used without their consent”.

The ASA is now assessing the complaints to establish whether there are grounds for further action, but no decision has been made yet on whether it will launch an investigation.

The Drum also contacted Channel 4 for comment but at the time of writing has yet to receive a reply.

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